I haven’t always appreciated prefaces. I read a ton growing up, but I remember flipping impatiently through the beginning pages of books, anxious to get to the “real” content. Context, introduction, author’s intent- why bother? Take me to the good stuff! I saw the preface as the part that teachers assigned but nobody really cared to read.
My perspective didn’t actually change until my senior year of college. I had this wonderful professor, a true master of literature who was just SO good at encouraging us to find all the hidden connections, the tiniest themes, and the relationships between pieces of books. For one of our essays we had the choice between a few topics. I have always suffered from a psychological inability to choose an essay topic that was already discussed at length in class (I know, I know, I should get over it and make my life easier but where is the fun in that?). So for this particular paper I ended up picking the topic of prefaces, which we hadn’t really touched on in our class discussions. The exercise proved to be rather interesting and completely changed my perspective on the role of a preface. Our class focused on medieval French texts, and these texts’ authors used the preface to unleash a ton of information you never found in the accompanying body of the novels. If you didn’t bother to read the preface, you missed out on valuable lessons in tone, social context, how the text was commissioned, etc. I found that reading the prefaces completely adjusted my experience of understanding the books and their messages. Suddenly, I was a fan of prefaces. The difference, though, was that these prefaces were written in conjunction with the body of the books- they were explicitly related to the following pages by the book’s original author, as opposed to biographical introductions about the author or descriptions of recent analyses of the work. The preface was more of a hallway into the book rather than a waiting room where you have to bide your time waiting for permission to enter the main text.
So why is this important? And why am I writing about it here? I suppose my point is that you are probably wondering why this blog even exists. Rather than give you my complete autobiographical waiting room, I am going to give you a hallway. For the waiting room, check out the about me. Here, I just want to say that I hope to use this blog as a way to investigate the world around me, to challenge myself to think critically about the news I read, the trends I hear, and the topics I discuss. This blog is a personal committment to thinking, digesting and writing about the news and observations that I find interesting, disturbing, or maybe just entertaining. I am asking myself to go beyond the realm of what comes up in my “official” life – that is, the everyday things I am expected to do- and push toward chronicling my “individual” life- the things that make me tick, make me think, and make me want to get a better understanding of this crazy place we inhabit.
Oh, and the cookies part? You will probably see some recipes at some point. It is just bound to happen. No intellectual motivation there- I just really, REALLY like baked goods.
And so, this hallway ends. Til next time!